The five stages of Grief

I don’t think anyone likes grief.  It’s draining and emotional and just plain upsetting.  However grief plays an incredibly important role in our life.  And although it can be painful, even unbearable, grief’s role is to help you recover from a loss – even a terrible loss.

The five stages of grief are pretty well known in counselling circles.  And they tend to go in this order – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.   Naturally there are different levels of stress.  A loved one dying is probably worse than losing a rugby game.  But the rules still apply.

The reason for grief is because you love or are invested in something that is no longer around.  It is lost.  Grief is the process of letting go and finding your way back to the life you are meant to have.

It is so important to remember that moving on is not forgetting the person at all.  Moving on is how the world works – the world moves on regardless.

  1. Denial is the first reaction.  This helps us deal with profound loss.  When we can’t take it all in, denial gives us the time we need.  But we cannot remain there, although we may think it is best.  Reality, no matter how hard it is to face, will start knocking on your door.
  2. Anger is then the next stage.  Anger can be towards all kinds of things or people.  Anger releases pent up emotions – like a pressure cooker.  To be angry doesn’t always mean yelling or throwing things.  Your anger could be very internal and private.  Being angry is ok – but don’t stay there longer than you need.
  3. Bargaining is a tough one, because this is when you realise you aren’t in control and you plea with anyone to make things better.  This is the step from anger to Depression.
  4. Depression comes when denial, anger and bargaining pass.  When they haven’t given what you wanted the reality of the loss hits home.  Reality can be awful.  
  5. Acceptance is the final stage.  This doesn’t mean there is no more tears or pain.  It is simply the realisation that what has happen has happened and there is nothing I can do to change that.  Acceptance is so important because we don’t live in the past and we don’t need to live with denial of the truth or anger.  

Importantly, you have the biggest say in where you want to be.  Some people stage angry or depressed without ever moving on.  My guess is that your loved one wouldn’t want that for you.

Sometimes people jump back and forward through the stages.  It is only when we truly face each stage that we can move on.  Sometimes we might need help (professional counsellor) to do that, which is totally fine.

Dog at beach

Grief is the painful tool that deals with lost love, lost hope.  It’s purpose is so important in order for you to live the life you have left.  Though it can feel like it will never end – it will.  Grief is the price of love.

We do not forget, we do weep at times, we start to live our life differently than before.  But the thing about life is that at its heart life is for living.